Tuesday, December 13, 2011


This beautifully animated short based on 1970's picture books written and illustrated by Raymond Briggs is a British Christmas classic. This is the first time I've seen it, but probably everyone over the age of 25 in the U.K. is familiar with it. Actually, this Christmas Eve it will be 20 years since it first aired.

"Father Christmas" shows us what Santa Claus does on his time off all the rest of the year. This year he decides to go on holiday. We follow him to France, Scotland and Las Vegas, until he has to go back to prepare for Christmas Eve.

What I loved about this story is that Father Christmas (voiced by British comedian and director Mel Smith) seems so human and real. He likes food, booze and girls. In Las Vegas he even gambles a little. While just stating it like that, it might sound a bit crude but it's quite the opposite. Santa is a sweet, cheerful old man who knows how to enjoy life. All his misadventures have cute and funny outcomes that both kids and adults will chuckle at. The hand-drawn animation is full of warmth and personality, everything look so cosy and Christmassy, it makes me want to put on a cheesy reindeer sweater and cuddle up on the sofa with a hot cup of cocoa.

 In the U.S. a sanitized version was released where all the smoking, drinking, show-girls and even Santa's bum was edited out. I can just imagine how much this will have ruined the movie. It erases all that Father Christmas is and enjoys and you're left with nothing. Well, I guess you're left with a typical American goody-two-shoes Hallmark postcard version, but who would prefer that? I doubt any kids will.

"Father Christmas" is a silly story full of heart that for the 28 minutes it runs, kind of makes you believe in Santa Claus again. So, if you're planning on watching it this December, make sure to get the original version and you'll be in for a treat. I loved it!

Next up: Another Raymond Briggs classic: "the Snowman". 

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